John P. Greene

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John Portineus Greene was an early leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is perhaps best known for his role in the destruction of the press of the Nauvoo Expositor. In 1844, Greene was serving as chief of police in Nauvoo, Illinois, when the Nauvoo City Council voted to destroy the Nauvoo Expositor press.

With the sanction of the city council, Joseph Smith ordered Greene, with the assistance of the Nauvoo Legion, to destroy the printing press. On Monday evening, June 10, the marshal and his posse of approximately 100 men removed the press, scattered the type, and burned the remaining copies of the newspaper.

The destruction of the Expositor intensified feelings against the members of the Church. In neighboring Warsaw, Illinois, a leading anti-Mormon newspaper editor named Thomas Sharp seized this opportunity to mobilize Hancock County citizens against the Saints. Trying to prevent a civil war, Illinois governor Thomas Ford reviewed the Nauvoo City Council’s legal justifications for suppressing the newspaper and decided that Joseph Smith needed to stand trial in Carthage, the county seat, on the charge of “riot.”

Though he accepted Ford’s promise of protection and submitted to arrest, Joseph Smith never stood trial to defend his actions as mayor. Greene was one of the men who accompanied Joseph and Hyrum Smith to Carthage Jail, where Joseph and Hyrum were held for treason against the state.

After the murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, Greene was one of the first people to visit Emma.

Greene was born on September 3, 1793, in Herkimer County, New York. He accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon from Samuel Smith, and although he did not initially express an interest in reading it, he was baptized into the Church in April 1832. He served eleven missions for the Church. He was a member of the Council of Fifty. He died at Nauvoo on September 10, 1844.

As “an authorized representative of the Mormons,” he is the author of the pamphlet “Facts Relative to the Expulsion of the Mormons or Latter-day Saints, from the State of Missouri, under the ‘Extermination Order,’” which was first published in the Quincy (Illinois) Argus.

He married Rhoda Young, a sister of Brigham Young on February 11, 1813, with whom he had six children. He later married Mary Eliza Nelson on December 6, 1841, and they had one child.